Want to sell art and antiques in 2017? Then get cracking

Auctioneers are seeking consignments to sell, and they’re especially keen on Irish art

When the Boats Come In, by Walter Osborne goes under the hammer at Bonhams in London on March 1st, with a top estimate of £150,000/€173,000

When the Boats Come In, by Walter Osborne goes under the hammer at Bonhams in London on March 1st, with a top estimate of £150,000/€173,000

 

If you are planning to sell art and antiques at auction in 2017, then it is time to get cracking. Perhaps you’ve inherited at item you don’t really like or want? or you are downsizing or decluttering? Or just need to raise some cash?

Auctioneers throughout Ireland are currently seeking consignments for the spring auctions and are offering free valuations. Good Irish paintings are especially in demand, according to auctioneers.

Among some of the art auction dates already announced – and for which consignments are being sought – are: February 27th, Irish & International Art at Whyte’s in Dublin; March 29th, Important Irish Art at Adam’s in Dublin; April 4th, Irish Art at de Veres in Dublin; and April 27th; Classic Art at Sheppard’s in Durrow.

One trend certain to accelerate in 2017 is the selling – and buying – of art online. Sotheby’s, for example, has revealed that 19 per cent of all lots sold by the company worldwide in 2016 were bought online. Online buyers spent $155 million at Sotheby’s during the year – up nearly 20 per cent on the previous year.

The first online Irish art auction of 2017 is already underway. Bidding is open in the Irish Art Online Auction at morganodriscoll.com and ends between 6.30pm and 9.30pm on Monday evening, January 23rd. Of particular interest is Lot 8, Belfast Shipyard Worker, wax crayon on paper, by William Conor signed and dated, April 15th, 1912 – the very day that Titanic sank – estimated at €1,500-€2,500.

Good time to sell?

Is 2017 a good time to sell art and antiques? The market has certainly picked up in the past year and most auctioneers say that business is improving in line with the economic recovery. Demand continues to be driven by investors looking for an alternative to bank deposits, which continue to pay paltry interest rates.

What are auctioneers looking for? While there is always a market for paintings by traditional blue-chip artists such as Jack B Yeats, Paul Henry and Sir John Lavery, what about less expensive or more recent art? Adam’s believes there is also demand for “modern and contemporary Irish art”, citing artists including “Mark Francis, Donald Teskey, Elizabeth Magill, Gwen O’Dowd and Elisabeth Cope who did well in 2016” and “will continue to improve in 2017”.

Whyte’s believes that “improved prices should attract more sellers in 2017” and expects prices to improve for artists who fell out of financial favour during the recession, among them Louis le Brocquy, Dan O’Neill, George Campbell, Brian Bourke, William Crozier and Charles Tyrrell.

De Veres also highlight renewed interest in “the best of Irish contemporary” art, mentioning Patrick Scott, Barrie Cooke, John Shinnors and Basil Blackshaw, and noted that “Patrick Scott proved to be hugely popular in 2016, specifically his gold leaf paintings, while prices for Louis le Brocquy [whose prices plummeted after the crash] continue to defy logic, surely the market for his work will improve in 2017”.

If it is a good time to sell, is it also a good time to buy? Veteran auctioneer George Mealy summed up the state of the market by quoting his late father, who established Mealy’s in 1934, “paraphrasing Genesis 41:54” to describe the business cycle as “Seven years of famine, seven years aplenty”.

Mr Mealy said that “after a great year in 2016”, he was “hopeful that the famine that commenced in 2009 is finally over”. But buyers still have the upper hand over sellers, he believes, as “in the antiques market, prices are still at historic lows and as such, it is a very good time to invest”.

Selling overseas

Despite the fluctuating euro-sterling exchange rate and the extra costs (such as shipping) involved, there are vendors in Ireland who, for whatever reason, prefer to sell in London. All the big three London auction houses, Bonhams, Christie’s and Sotheby’s, have representatives in Ireland and also regularly send experts to Ireland to provide valuations and to seek consignments for auctions in London and other cities around the world.

Sales of Irish interest already announced for London in 2017 include an art auction at Bonhams on March 1st, where a painting by Walter Osborne, When the Boats Come In – described as an “Irish Impressionist Masterpiece” – goes under the hammer with a top estimate of £150,000/€173,000.

An auction of rare books and manuscripts from the library of the Jesuit Community at Milltown Park, Dublin takes place at Sotheby’s on June 7th . The collection, expected to realise £1.5 million/€1.7 million is described as “one of the most important of its kind to come to the market”

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